A powerful method referred to as stochastic pruning is introduced for analysing the performance of common complex systems whose component failures follow a homogeneous Poisson process. The method has been applied to create a very fast solver for estimating the production availability of large repairable flow networks with complex topology. It is shown that the key performance measures production availability and system reliability are all properties of a stochastically pruned network with corresponding pruning probabilities. The high-speed solver is based on an important result regarding the average total output of a repairable system including components characterised by constant failure/hazard rates. The average output over a specified operation time interval is given by the ratio of the expected momentary output of the stochastically pruned system, where the separate components are pruned with probabilities equal to their unavailabilities, and the maximum momentary output in the absence of component failures. The running time of the algorithm for determining the expected total output of the system over a specified time interval is independent of the length of the operational interval and the failure frequencies of the edges. The high-speed solver has been embedded in a software tool, with graphics user interface by which a flow network topology is drawn on screen and the parameters characterising the edges and the nodes are easily specified. The software tool has been used to analyse a gas production network and to study the impact of the network topology on the network performance. It is shown that two networks built with identical type and number of components may have very different performance levels, because of slight differences in their topology.
Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment\Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences
Year of publication: 2016Date of RADAR deposit: 2016-11-24